Home Art Contemporary Art Trevor Paglen’s Orbital Reflector: Taking Art to New Heights

Trevor Paglen’s Orbital Reflector: Taking Art to New Heights


As technology progresses exponentially, it likewise facilitates an artist’s innate desire to create. The Nevada Museum of Art has teamed up with artist Trevor Paglen to bring the arts to a new height: Space.

Millions of Americans have been fascinated and influenced by space since the launch and successful landing of Apollo 11. As time has passed, our fascination with space has faded into an ignorance. Blind to all of the technological necessities that are contained in its orbit, we rarely look up to the sky in acknowledgment. Trevor Paglen along with The Nevada Museum of Art is seeking to restore this fascination with the launch of Paglen’s newest project. Orbital Reflector is essentially a hundred foot long pendulum, orbiting not in silence but in recognition. Its diamond shape is reminiscent of minimalist ideals, evoking a stark theme of science fiction. Coated entirely in a reflective mylar, it surpasses ignorance and demands acknowledgment. Paglen writes, “While most of us realize that everyday satellites link telecommunications systems, financial and transportation infrastructure, and military functions around the globe, it is sometimes easy to forget these all-but-invisible activities. After all, they happen up there in outer space — out of sight, out of mind. Orbital Reflector changes this by transforming “space” into “place.” It makes visible the invisible, thereby rekindling our imaginations and fueling potential for the future.”

It’s no easy endeavor sending a hundred foot long mirrored pendulum over 350 miles (575 kilometers) into space. It will require the assistance of SpaceX and aerospace company Global Western, to the tune of $1.3 million dollars, to make this vision a reality. Global Western will manufacture the CubeSat from which the inflatable pendulum will be contained. It will then board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, propelling it into orbit where it will remain for four to five weeks before disintegrating upon re-entry. The project has already managed to raise $1.23 million but the artist has turned to crowdfunding to raise the final $70,000. While the Kickstarter is undoubtedly more of a marketing tactic than financing solution, it opens the project to extensive public involvement. Planned to coincide with Paglen’s retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., the project will launch in Summer of 2018.

You can help support Paglen’s sculpture on Kickstarter.

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